Anti-smuggling efforts by the tax and customs bureaus should focus on commodities such as rice, fuel and cigarettes, a Cabinet official said.
In a statement, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd said that he had directed Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña and Internal Revenue Commissioner Caesar Dulay to work together in a bid to revitalize the government’s anti-smuggling campaign.
“I’m sure the smuggling of cigarettes will go up now,” he added, noting reports that traders were scrambling to fill a void left following the sale of tobacco firm Mighty Corp. to Japan Tobacco.
Mighty — the country’s second-largest cigarette manufacturer — was forced to sell its assets to the Japanese firm as part of a settlement that also led to the government’s dropping of tax evasion charges.
Both the tax and customs bureaus worked together to unearth Mighty’s use of fake tax stamps, which allowed the firm to sell its cigarettes at significantly lower prices and deprive the government of much-needed revenues.
Lapeña, who was appointed chief of the Bureau of Customs (BoC) just last August, has proposed the creation of a joint task force with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) that will focus on curbing smuggling.
Last week, the Finance department reported that the BIR and the National Bureau of Investigation had raided a warehouse in Cabanatuan that was found to be storing smuggled cigarettes.